Maria Henry explores Gucci’s campaign for non-binary representation and the critique that accompanies it.
On Wednesday, Gucci announced its new MX collection. Named after the gender-neutral pronoun ‘MX’, the collection is an appraisal of non-gendered fashion and shows a continued effort on the part of creative director Alessandro Michele to defy gendered expectations.
In a statement on their website, Gucci explained that: “The House’s collections emphasise the dissolving lines of the gender divide in the name of self-expression. Playing with the constructive nature of gender, MX underlines the performative nature of what we wear, presenting masculinity and femininity as relative concepts”.
As part of the launch, Gucci redesigned its classic Jackie 1961 bag and showed it being modelled on both more masculine-presenting models and feminine-presenting models. In a statement on their Instagram, they wrote: “Alessandro Michele redefines one of the House’s most recognisable bags with a genderless attitude and multi-styling. The creative director imbued the #GucciJackie1961 with new relevance for the contemporary. Sourcing a vintage Jackie bag design from his own archive, Alessandro Michele changed its look by proposing it in a mini size, with a minimal silhouette”.
The collection is accompanied by a comic-strip by artist Melek Zertal. The comic shows a range of characters in colourful Gucci outfits and begins with a professor-character saying: “In conclusion, we learnt that gender identity is not something static. Instead, it is dynamic and constituted by our daily behaviour and self-expression”.
Though the collection shows an interesting effort to explore gender-neutrality in fashion and diversity within the community, it has received some criticism. Writing for Pink News, Vic Parsons explained that Gucci’s portrayal of non-binary people is very one-tone, they wrote: “what does a “gender-neutral” person look like? Well, according to Gucci, gender-neutral means slim people. Slim, androgynous people”.
They continue: “Having thin, androgynous models for a new project in the fashion industry is obviously not a problem limited to Gucci MX, but given the brand’s evident commitment to disrupting the gender binary, it’s a shame to see that Gucci MX doesn’t take that final step”.
The question of why a special collection was needed to prove fashion is for everyone was also suggested by some commenters. Though Gucci, especially through the comments of Michele, has often voiced its beliefs that fashion should be gender-neutral. The collection in some ways provides buyers with the idea that only this specific collection is, whilst the rest of their products are still separated into men/women.
It continues the interesting debate as to how fashion houses approach diversity and gender and how even big efforts for change can sometimes lack representation, be that racial, physical, or so on. It is, however, a positive to see efforts on the part of Gucci to normalise the use of the MX pronoun and bring non-binary identities to the forefront of a major campaign. Change is slow and often imperfect, but it is happening.
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